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THE TRANSPORT TASK | Truck Review – Isuzu Trucks

Isuzu Trucks celebrates three decades of transport success

Isuzu Trucks Australia has been the market leader by volume in the Australian commercial vehicle industry for 31 consecutive years, an amazing statistic considering the ever-increasing competition from all parts of the globe.

By the close of December 2019, Isuzu Trucks had achieved market leadership of 23.6 percent of the 3501-8000 kg segment and 39.1 percent of the 8001-39001 kg medium duty segment, while romping into second place in the heavy duty 8001-39000 kg segment with 11.9 percent market share. Out of the total heavy commercial vehicle market in Australia, Isuzu achieved a market share of 22.7 percent, selling 8621 vehicles out of a total market of 37,969 units (VFacts YTD December 2019) and remaining number one.

Isuzu Trucks Australia has maintained its dominance across the market segments by concentrating on filling the requirements of its customers. Where a suitable model specification didn’t exist, the company created it to plug the possible gap in sales. In so doing it has brought along its competitors to learn from its success, to the point that all major brands now offer ‘Ready to Work’ bodied vehicles, something that was pioneered by Isuzu.

By making trucks more accessible and specifications more easily understood by the customers it’s made owning a truck of the right specification a much less daunting prospect.

For 2020, the latest round of updates to the F-Series medium-duty truck range includes the introduction of Isuzu Electronic Stability Control (IESC) to five key FRR and FRD models in the 10,700 kg–11,000 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) segment.

Two additional models have also joined the F-Series range, with the launch of the FVD 165-260 Auto Crew and the FSR 140-260 MWB tipper, both targeted for introduction into specific segments of the overall market. There’s also the addition of new models specifically aimed at the waste, refuse and recycling industries with dual-control applications across the FVD, FVZ and FVY product ranges, plus there’s a new F-Series Freightpack joining the “Ready to Work” range of pre-bodied urban pick-up and delivery solutions.

Having initially appeared in Isuzu’s light-duty 2015 N Series range, IESC technology has now been applied to key 10,700 kg and 11,000 kg GVM F Series models. This technology is predominantly aimed at models used for urban PUD (pick-up and delivery) activities, such as those with van and curtain-sided bodywork.

Isuzu’s electronic stability control (IESC) technology gathers information from a range of sensors to detect and help correct any unexpected loss of vehicle control to ensure vehicle control and stability.

New to the F-Series range is the seven seat, FVD 165-260 Auto Crew, for applications such as with councils, emergency services and road works crews. This supersedes the previous FTR 150-260 Auto Crew model and is powered by the 6HK1 TCC engine producing 191 kW at 2400 rpm. It’s matched to the Allison MD3000 automatic transmission, which allows local installation of “live-drive” power take-off (PTO) units to suit many applications.

Standard features include the ISRI 6860 air suspension seat for the driver and front passenger, plus Meritor front and rear axles with standard Hendrickson HAS 230 road-friendly airbag rear suspension.

The “Ready to Work” Freightpack F-Series line-up is new for 2020 and caters for customers requiring 10-pallet, 12-pallet and 14-pallet bodies with GVMs ranging from 11,000 kg to 24,000 kg with either fluid automatic or automated manual transmissions.

Also joining the F-Series “Ready-to-Work” models is the FSR 140-260 MWB Tipper which was previewed at last year’s Brisbane Truck Show.

With a GVM of 14,000 kg and the potential for a capacity of over 5.2 cubic metres for a payload in excess of 7500 kg, it offers 37 percent more capacity than the FSR 107-210 Tipper.

It comes with a factory-fitted tipping body built by ShinMaywa, with a 6.0 mm deck plate and 3.2 mm front and side plates, together with Isuzu’s exclusive design two-way tailgate. Practical safety features include yellow-painted safety steps and grab handles, a shovel rack and a hydraulic body-locking safety mechanism.

The expansion of the dual-control models to cater for GVM requirements from 14,000-24,000 kg adds the 16,500 kg and 24,000 kg GVM FVD and FVY dual-control models to this highly specialised market segment. Both units feature Hendrickson airbag rear suspension, which delivers substantial tare weight advantages.

Available in 12,000 kg and 14,000 kg GVM ratings, the existing FSR dual control model features Isuzu axles, multi-leaf steel spring rear suspension, dual circuit air-over-hydraulic front and rear drum brakes with anti-lock braking system, and ISRI 6860 seats with integrated seatbelt in both left and right-hand driver positions.

All the Isuzu dual-control models also come factory equipped with the industry standard Allison automatic transmission, using the LCT 2500 Series in the FSR, the MD3000 Series in the FVD and the MD3500 Series in the FVZ and FVY 6×4 variants.

With all these new additions and amendments to the Isuzu range for 2020, PowerTorque took the opportunity to  review some of the recent customer purchases that have taken place around the country.

DC Constructions

Daniel Cameron established DC Constructions in 2014, servicing Townsville and the surrounding areas in Queensland. The business includes rural work from extensions to maintenance, for either commercial or residential properties.

When the time came to upgrade from a ute to a new truck

Daniel headed to Tony Ireland Isuzu to collect his “Ready to Work” NPR 55-155 Tradepack.

Local supplier Tru-Fit Sheetmetal fitted out the NPR Tradepack with custom-made aluminium toolboxes that sit in the front half of the tray. The toolboxes open up to shelves and drawers to cater for tools and materials, as well as a fridge and a microwave – all powered by a 12-volt solar panel.

“The solar panel is mainly for out of town work, but it’s handy for the everyday grind. It also charges the batteries for all the tools,” Daniel said.

With a GVM of 5500 kg and a GCM of 9000 kg, maximum power of 114 kW is produced at 2600 rpm;, with peak torque of 419 Nm rated at 1600–2600 rpm.

Geelong Freight Solutions

A change of State from QLD to Victoria brings our review to John Groot of Geelong Freight Solutions which specialises in the delivery of construction steel and dry-freight timber all over Melbourne and the nearby Bellarine Peninsula.

After spending 30 years in the sector, John Groot began GFS in 2014. Six years later and John’s business has grown strongly, backed by his Isuzu truck fleet comprising an FVR 950, an FXZ 1500 and a brand new FVR 165 – 260.

Geelong Freight Solutions recently completed a contract to transport and supply steel over the four-year restoration project for Melbourne’s $100 million-dollar Flinders Street Station upgrade.

John’s FVR features the Isuzu 6HK1-TCC engine which produces 221 kW of power at 2400 rpm and 981 Nm of torque.

“Aaron Smith and his servicing team at Winter & Taylor Isuzu in Geelong do overnight maintenance, so we drop them in for a service after work and pick them up first thing in the morning, it works perfectly,” John said.

Orbit Fitness

Over in Western Australia there’s a boom in the fitness industry as a result of nearly 71 percent of West Australians dedicating 150 minutes or more each week to physical activity. That figure becomes even more impressive when compared to the rest of Australia, where the participation figure drops to 65.5 percent for the same time period.

Beginning as a family business in 1983, Orbit Fitness has grown alongside the health and fitness industry in WA, becoming the state’s largest supplier of fitness equipment. Operating out of seven locations, Orbit is one of the few fitness retailers that does its own servicing, delivery, parts and installation out of its own warehouses.

Orbit Fitness relies heavily on its fleet of Isuzu NPR5 5-155s which feature the automated manual transmission (AMT) to make it easier for car licence holders to adjust to the different driving characteristics of light trucks.

“The technology in the truck, the AMT, the GPS navigation, the reversing camera and sensors, the comfort of the suspension seats… and the digital radio, the boys listen to the cricket or whatever music channel they want while they are driving to a job site,” said Orbit’s Operations Manager, John Price.

“The older Isuzu trucks we had before these new NPRs have done half a million kilometres each and we’re still going on fine.

“We have an exceptional relationship with Major Motors here, our supplying dealership, and the staff are superb,” added John.

Wilson’s Produce

Across Bass Straight in the Central Highlands Tasmanian town of Mount Seymour, Grant Wilson is a fifth-generation farmer.

With a 1200 tonne seed contract of Ranger Russet potatoes for Simplot Australia, the Wilson family runs an uncommonly diverse property that includes the farming of 1000 sheep, 1600 lambs and 70 head of cattle. In addition to all of that, Grant also grows market-fresh potatoes.

One of the main aims for the farm was to self-sufficiently feed all the animals on site. Getting adequate water to the farm was a problem, and so they looked towards Isuzu Power Solutions (IPS) to help with this.

Grant now controls the daily amount of water being supplied to the farm’s crops and stock, with help from IPS in the form of an open configuration GS013ENN Generator Set (GenSet) and the 6BG1QWPU10 engine fitted with a water pump.

The GenSet is powered by an Isuzu 3CE1BGZG1 power unit driving a Mecc Alte ECP33L4 alternator, and together with the 6BG1 pump unit that features the ComAp Pro control panel (coupled with a 3G/4G-enabled remote communications unit), the IPS supplied irrigation system is central to its irrigation solution.

The Wilson’s GenSet is fitted with an Eco Control Panel that can be easily operated from Grant’s smartphone, allowing him remote operator access at any time.

“I can control the GenSet and the pump unit using my iPhone, I just hit the start button and the generator will kick it all off, turning the water on.

“You can programme it for different rates of flow, times of day, different days.

“It’s been very handy being able to fine tune the different programs, and I don’t have to physically drive to each of the generators to turn them on.”

Particularly suited to the application at hand, the IPS GenSet with a power rating of 13.5 kVA at 1500 rpm was an easy choice for the Wilsons, as was the 6BG1 pump unit.

“They’re great, they sit here and run for 24 hours a day and we don’t have any issues with them.

The 6BG1 pump unit is paired with a 10-bar pressure transducer for additional monitoring capabilities, passing on the information needed by Grant to manage his water requirements.

McMahon Earth Solutions

Up North now to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, where Matt McMahon established McMahon Earth Solutions back in 2016 to specialise in landscaping acreage properties and servicing clients looking for creative landscaping solutions. The business also services commercial customers, providing a suite of tailored solutions.

When he’s not liaising with suppliers, managing subcontractors, drawing up plans and sketching the illustrations you’ll find Matt at the wheel of his Isuzu FRR 107-210 tipper, which was supplied through Gilbert & Roach Isuzu at Newcastle.

Featuring a GVM of 10,700 kg, with a GCM of 16,000 kg, maximum power of 154 kW is produced at 2400 rpm with peak torque of 726 Nm rated at 1600 rpm.

“It carts everything from general waste to my 4.5 tonne Caterpillar 304.E2 excavator, as well as landscaping material and at times even big rocks and boulders,” said Matt.

Thanks to the support provided by his wife Sarah, Matt does everything he can to ensure his client’s vision becomes reality, be it a unique stone driveway or an immaculate retaining wall.

Grounds Maintenance Australia

As an adjunct to landscaping, Grounds Maintenance Australia of Ballarat was established as a one-stop shop for all different types of maintenance needs, covering industrial cleaning to landscaping, and everything else such as office cleaning, furniture removal, waste removal and, of course, grounds maintenance like turf maintenance and revegetation.

When GMA Managing Director and owner, Steve Marett needed a truck he headed off to Westar Trucks and picked up his first Isuzu, an NLR 45-150 Tipper. He was so impressed that in 2017 he got himself another NLR 45-150 Tipper, and an NPR 65-190 Tipper in the following year.

The NLR 45-150 Tippers are versatile enough in that they can be driven on a car licence and bought in automatic transmission, offering Steve the freedom to trust any employee in the truck.

Steve explained, “They’re the best suited trucks around for our first-year apprentices to drive, whether they’re getting their truck license or not.”

The NLR 45-150 features a GVM of 4500 kg and a GCM of 8000 kg, with maximum power of 110 kW at 2800 rpm and peak torque of 375 Nm rated at 1600 – 2800 rpm.

“The ‘Ready to Work’ Isuzu tipper just seemed a lot better in quality and a lot more heavy-duty than other brands that we’ve tried. With the drop-down sides you can use them as a tray back, you can use them as a tipper, you can use them for whatever you

want, basically,” added Steve.

Greenwood Landscape Management

There’s an obvious universal appreciation within the landscape industry for Isuzu “Ready to Work” tippers as reinforced by Greenwood Landscape Management’s Regional Director, Mark Kemen.

As commercial landscapers, Greenwood does upper-market residential projects, as well as anything else you see in outdoor public areas, everything from laying turf to building boat ramps, beach accesses, barbecue huts, footpaths and playgrounds.

Greenwood’s was originally founded at the Gold Coast in 2005 by Paul Green and Alan Woodger, with their one truck and their first employee, Mark Kemen.

Having expanded from the Gold Coast to include the Sunshine Coast, Mark and his team grew to employ 16 staff members with two Isuzu NPR 45-155 Tippers, five utes and a 1.8-tonne excavator.

“We needed something that didn’t need a medium-rigid or heavy-rigid licence but could still carry a decent load, as well as the excavator, with no dramas,” Mark explained.

That requirement was satisfied by Isuzu’s NPR 45-155, which could be driven on a car license and featured a GVM of 4500 kg and a GCM of 8000 kg. Maximum power of 114 kW is produced at 2600 rpm with peak torque of 419 Nm rated at 1600–2600 rpm.

“The first Isuzu NPR for the Gold Coast crew was bought in June 2018 from Warren Clark down at Gold Coast Isuzu. Our second Isuzu was purchased for the Sunshine Coast        from David Alberg from Madill Isuzu,” Mark said.

Greenwood’s commitment to giving back into the community that has made them a staple of the local community.

“We sponsor a number of programmes, events and organisations, such as the Currimundi State School’s Surfing Excellence Program; the Sunshine Coast Gymnastics Academy; Pa and Ma Bendall Memorial Surfing Contest; Currimundi Catchment Care Group; Caloundra Panthers Australian Football Club; Currimundi United Football Club and WindanSea Boardriders.

“A few on our team help out with the rural fire service as well… we’ve always prided ourselves on supporting the community,” Mark said.

 Heavy Automatics              

Staying in Queensland, we now move to Brisbane, where the crew of Heavy Automatics specialises in Allison Transmissions products.

Established in 1990, Heavy Automatics operates workshops and dealerships in most major cities in Australia.

Having worked for the company for over 12 years, service manager Brendon Clunie manages the dispatch of its 24-hour breakdown service.

“We do field service daily and are very metro-focused,” said Brendon.

“Rain or shine, we service pretty much all of Queensland and the upper half of northern New South Wales. We’ll drive everywhere, from metro highways to rural off-roads and even to mine sites.”

With a need to operate a larger-capacity vehicle than a ute, Heavy Automatics purchased an Isuzu NLR 45-150 Servicepack X, from Brisbane Isuzu.

“When we receive a call for breakdown assistance, we carry pretty much everything from general tooling to 120 litres of automatic transmission fluids that we need to help keep the vehicle going.”

“The features of the Servicepack X makes the truck the perfect transport solution for those in the business of servicing breakdowns. Some of our crew travel overnight, so it is great having all their tools secure in a fully enclosed toolbox.

“The truck also has that extra bit on the back where we can put the transmission and take it to site if we need to, so it really is the ideal truck for us.

With a GVM of 4500 kg, a GCM of 8000 kg, maximum power output of 110 kW at 2800 rpm and peak torque of 375 Nm rated at 1600–2800 rpm, the NLR 45-150 Servicepack X is more than a step up from a ute.

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